Tentative Agreement Reached in Unit 5 (Postdoc) Negotiations

A tentative agreement has been reached between the Governing Council of the University of Toronto and CUPE 3902, Unit 5, representing approximately 700 internally-funded Post-doctoral Fellows at U of T.

Following twelve hours of conciliation at the Ministry of Labour on December 10, the Union’s Bargaining Committee voted unanimously to recommend the tentative agreement to a unit-wide membership meeting.  The meeting will be held on January 8, 2015 from 6-8pm in Alumni Hall (VC 112) located at 91 Charles Street West in the Victoria College building.

Last month, following nearly one year in negotiations for a first collective agreement, members of Unit 5 afforded CUPE 3902 an 81% strike mandate.  The resultant tentative agreement improves significantly upon the Employer’s previous offer (which failed to receive membership endorsement in May 2014) in a number of important ways that members had highlighted as crucial.

If approved by members in attendance on January 8, a ratification vote will commence following the meeting, and will continue on January 9 and 12, times and locations to be announced as soon as possible.  Details of the tentative agreement will be made available to members at the meeting, and provided to members in the event of the commencement of a ratification vote.  Details will not be available to the general public until ratified by both parties.

On behalf of the Unit 5 Bargaining Committee, and the CUPE 3902 Executive Committee, thank you for your support and determination to achieve a fair first contract for Post-doctoral Fellows at the University of Toronto.

Unit 1 and 5 Strike Vote Results

Members of Unit 1 & Unit 5 Provide Historic Mandate in Joint Strike Vote

After one week at the polls, and following unanimous decisions at membership meetings to commence strike votes, members of both Unit 1 and Unit 5 have afforded strong strike mandates to CUPE 3902, which represents more than 8,000 education workers at the University of Toronto.

Unit 1: Representing students/postdocs employed as TAs, Course Instructors and in other academic capacities by UofT

Voting in record numbers, members of Unit 1 produced the largest number of “Yes” votes in the history of Canadian unionization of student/postdoc instructors.  Unit 1 members have been working without a renewed contract for more than 6 months.  After 16 weeks of negotiations with the employer (the University administration), agreement has been reached on a total of one union proposal.  Proposals developed by members for improved working conditions, fair and transparent hiring provisions, improved funding and benefits, and additional support for unfunded and equity-seeking members have not begun to be seriously addressed by the employer in this round of negotiations.  Adding a significant challenge this year, the employer continues to insist that the provincial Liberal government has imposed on them a “net-zero compensation increase” mandate, limiting their ability to provide routine funding, wage and benefit increases.   The results of the Unit 1 strike vote are as follows:

Ballots cast: 1723

Yes: 1556

No: 166

Spoiled: 1

Percentage: 90.3% voted yes

Unit 5: Representing internally funded Postdocs employed as researchers by the University of Toronto

In their first-ever strike vote, after approximately a year of negotiations for a fair first collective agreement, members of Unit 5 have provided a very strong mandate to their union representatives.  Last May, Postdocs voted overwhelmingly to not send a tentative agreement to a ratification vote, on the basis that it failed to address their core concerns.  Postdocs continue to seek a first collective agreement that is reflective of other unionized Postdoc contracts across Canada, and that respects the contributions made by Postdocs to the research mandate of the University of Toronto.  The results of the Unit 5 strike vote are as follows:

Ballots cast: 179

Yes: 145

No: 34

Spoiled: 0

Percentage: 81% voted yes

What’s next?

The Unit 1 Bargaining Team will resume talks with the employer on November 28.  The Unit 5 Bargaining Team will resume conciliation at the Ontario Labour Relations Board offices on December 10 and 15.  With the strong mandates provided by the members of both units, the Executive Committee and Bargaining Teams are hopeful that the employer will return to negotiations prepared to hear the Union as equals in achieving fair agreements.  We urge the employer to work with us to find solutions to the concerns raised by members, through their elected Bargaining Teams, over the past many months.

CUPE 3902 representatives take the mandates provided by union members very seriously.  Elected Bargaining Teams will continue to make all efforts to reach fair collective agreements through negotiations at the bargaining table.  We will provide the membership with updates every step of the way.  And if the Union Executive believes that some form of job action is necessary to achieve a contract acceptable to members, such actions will be discussed and voted on at a future meeting of your bargaining unit.

This year represents the moment at which this union is at its strongest.  For the first time in our history, all 8000 members are negotiating new (or first) collective agreements.  Unit 3 (representing non-student contract academic staff) is currently in active negotiations, and Unit 2 (Victoria University contract academic staff) and Unit 4 (St. Mike’s contract academic staff) are currently developing proposals and will commence negotiations with their employers early in the new year.  All of our members perform work across U of T which is vital to the fulfillment of the university’s mandate.  We are the largest union local on the campus, and the largest academic local in Canada.  As part of CUPE National, we are members of the largest union in Canada.  And, at this moment, thanks to our members, CUPE 3902 is the strongest it has ever been.

Thank you to everyone who voted this past week.  Thank you to those who are working to reach out to the membership across the university.  And thank you to the union representatives who are ensuring that the concerns of members are known by the employer.  Only together can we achieve fair contracts for all members.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE 3902 Executive Committee